As the Squamish River continues to move and present a flood hazard, consultants present options for the dike upgrade in Brackendale.
Around 15 people attended an open house presentation on Dec. 5, including Squamish Nation staff, District of Squamish council members, Eagle Watch volunteers and local business owners.
The dike project is complicated by the seepage zone affecting residences on reserve land, the location of WaterShed Grill, habitat and eagle viewing areas, land tenure and Government Road trespassing on Squamish Nation land.
Amir Taleghani, a water resources engineer for Kerr Wood Leidal, presented the options the consultants have come up with for the two sections of the dike, which is currently identified as inefficient. All options include raising the existing dike by 1.5 metres and testing for seismic performance in the chance of an earthquake.
The first section includes the area directly next to the Siyich'em Reserve and the WaterShed Grill.
Option A would raise the dike and build a retaining wall with a seepage cutoff wall, preventing the footprint of the dike from growing and which could address the seepage that affected the area during the 2003 flood.
"Given how low the land on Siyich'em reserve is, it wouldn't be perfect," Taleghani said of this option. "It would keep the dike stable, but there would likely still be some seepage that gets through in a big flood."
Riprap rock protection would require an environmental permit, as it would extend into the river.
Taleghani also noted the WaterShed Grill is attached to the dike.
Option B for this section of the upgrade would be to raise the land of the reserve to the same elevation as the dike's crest. It would include removing all of the structures on the reserve. At this point in the presentation, people in the audience remarked this option sounds quite invasive. One woman said it didn't make sense to put the residents through an event that she said would be like going through a flood, in preparation for a flood. Another asked if funding or financial help would be provided to the tenants of the reserve.
This option, however, would address the seepage issue, Taleghani said.
Option C for this section looks at building a new dike along the river that connects to Fisherman's Park. It would replace the need for the Eagle Run Drive Dike, which could act as a secondary form of protection in the event of a flood. A fish-friendly pumping station would also be added. Option C also allows for the possibility of restoring reserve land, which was originally 68 acres but decreased to 9.8 acres over the years. This option would not require any change to the existing Siyich'em reserve.
The second section refers to the eagle viewing area, where the Eagle Watch program takes place. For this area, the consultants presented one option: to raise the dike crest and expand toward the road. Government Road may need to be raised, unless a seepage cutoff wall is included.
Taleghani said the consultants are particularly interested in hearing feedback about the amenities that aren't directly flood-related, including parking, washrooms (currently temporary outhouses), signs and the pathway. The presentation highlighted the desire to represent the area's history.
As the project is still in the planning stage, cost estimates have not yet been determined.
Another open house in the new year will present the selected option, and take more public feedback. Taleghani said there will be more opportunities to give feedback around the construction stage.
Find more information and a survey collecting feedback on the area at www.squamish.ca.